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How to Keep Your Customers Coming Back

Appointments / Reservations

A customer visit typically starts with the service appointment. The best performing Dealers remove the service advisor from the job of setting appointments. The service advisor will often be too busy to be professional and timely. Also they may well schedule appointments based on his or her aspirations (or lack thereof) instead of shop capacity.

Depending on the customers’ needs and history at the dealership this a prime opportunity to plant the seed for additional needed or previously declined services. Once the appointment is set, Advisors must review the customer’s history BEFORE they show up.

This gives us a chance to create a plan for where that customer is in the cycle of ownership.  Are they overdue on preventative maintenance? Are there special ordered parts required to complete the job? Were there declined or postponed jobs during their previous visit they need to be reminded of? Armed with these facts, the Advisor can be proactive to ensure they offer additional needed services, accommodate special needs and are consistent in doing so.  Equally important if this is the customers FIRST visit, let’s plan on impressing them, right?

Customer Write Up

At write up, Advisors should perform a walk-around vehicle inspection, determine the prime concerns, offer any postponed or past due maintenance and check for un-completed recalls. From this exchange, Advisors will arrive at an agreement with the customer of the work that needs to be performed. Additionally, there should be an arrangement as to how to contact the customer upon completion and/or to give status on completion time and other details.

Special attention should be paid according to where your customer is within the lifecycle of their car ownership.

Cars in for the first visit few visits deserve that you put your best foot forward! The relationship you foster as Advisors and Managers is the KEY to keeping customers for the long haul. This is your chance to get to know your customer and cement the relationship to them to doing all of their business with YOU.

Remember, it’s your job to keep your customer informed about the condition of their vehicle each and every time they visit. Start your Multipoint Vehicle Checkup Inspection process during the FIRST visit so your customer gets used to seeing the progression of wear in their car and has peace-of-mind about safety and reliability. People want the sense of security that you can provide them. Make them aware of the maintenance requirements coming up so they can be prepared to act when it’s needed.

Vehicles that come to use mid-cycle deserve to be treated like first time customers. Be extra sensitive about the initial inspection to ensure they know the current state of affairs of their car.  Report the facts and offer options for solutions to help them and let them decide how to proceed. Never prejudge a customer’s response.

Customers with more miles on their car have hopefully had your care along the way and have been prepared to accept the additional needed services you mention. This is where your hard work will pay off. Keep in mind that sometimes customers often need to hear your recommendation many times before they decide to buy. It is critical you always re-offer postponed services that may have been previously declined.

Customer Status Update

Updating your customer’s status is an often overlooked element that, if done properly, will endear your customer to you. The goal is that no customer would ever have to inquire with you BEFORE you have had a chance to get back to them.


Waiters – We will estimate the time of departure once the write up process is complete – “Around 10:15” NOT JUST “around 1 hour”… ALSO We will tell the Inspection results with a PRIORITIZED PRESENTATION of any NEEDS as soon as possible in the process

Drop Offs – PROACTIVE STATUS CALL We will give YOU a time WE will call YOU also ask “What is your preferred contact method, email, phone or text?”

Call all drop off customers every day at least once to relay vehicle status

Active Delivery – Customer pickup process

Regardless of where your customer is in the experience of ownership, this step needs special attention. When you have all services performed and the car is ready to pick up, an active delivery needs to occur. When I say Active Delivery, it means much more than just tossing your customer the keys.

As a preferred method, the service advisor is also the cashier when the customer picks up. The service advisor is the person who’s best equipped to answer any questions the customer may have related to their service. This leads to a much better and more positive customer experience. This is the time to remind the customer of upcoming services, review the Multipoint Vehicle Checkup Inspection and make sure they have YOUR contact information and they know to deal with YOU in the future.

Finally, personally follow up with your customers via email, phone or hand-written follow-up card. Remember we want to stand out as the only place to take their car when it needs attention. I hope this helps your efforts!

John Fairchild
John Fairchild
John has more than 35 years of experience in fixed-operations management and consulting, and trains fixed-ops staff to improve performance and customer service. He started working in auto repair and parts at age 15 and over time held numerous positions at dealerships, including general manager. Visit the website

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